Contact Your Local Media

Media can be an important tool when trying to raise an issue at election time. The information below will help you to bring the issue of mental health and addictions to your local media in an effective manner. We have outlined three simple things you can do to raise the profile of mental health and addictions as an election issue through your local media:

Write a letter to the editor

A letter to the editor can be an effective way for individuals and/or organizations to deliver important information to the public. The “letters” section in newspapers provides a forum for public comment or debate. You can use a letter to the editor to:

  1. Correct or clarify information or perceptions: If there is an article that you think carried the wrong message about mental health and addictions, or had incorrect information, write a letter to the editor. Share your expertise on this topic and talk about how important it is that the next government make mental health and addictions a priority.
  2. Introduce or reinforce a message: If there is an article in your local newspaper that somehow relates back to mental health and/or addiction, you can respond to that article and either introduce or reinforce the message about the need for investments in mental health and addiction services. Use a newspaper article — whether positive or negative — as an opportunity to raise your issues.
  3. Express an opinion or point of view: You can also write a letter to the editor even if your topic has not been covered lately in the news. In your letter, state that access to mental health and addictions in your community is a real problem, and that the community needs to come together to raise this issue with local candidates at the upcoming provincial election.

Contact a local journalist

Journalists from local newspapers, radio, and television stations are interested in hearing from local residents like you about the issues that matter. Here are some tips for contacting local media outlets:

  1. Gather a list of media outlets that cover events and activities in your community. Try to find specific contact information for journalists that would be interested in a story related to mental health/addictions and the election.
  2. Before contacting media outlets, take some time to think about what you want to ask the reporter to do. Do you want them to cover an event you are organizing? Do you want the journalist to write about your efforts to focus local attention on mental health and addictions? Journalists get a lot of emails and calls, and may not have a lot of time to chat. The more organized and focused you are, the more likely they will listen to what you have to say and decide to cover your story.
  3. Remember that when you are talking to journalists anything you say could appear in print, on the radio or on TV. Before doing an interview with a reporter, always take time to write down two or three points you want to make — and stick to those points! There is no such thing as “off the record.”
  4. Speak from personal experience whenever possible. The mental health and addictions system can be a very complex issue for journalists to cover and for their readers and viewers to understand. Help them by offering insight based on your personal experience.

Put out a press release

A press release is an announcement to the media about a newsworthy issue. It is a fairly short document that states the key issues and provides quotes that a journalist can use when writing his or her own story. We have provided a sample press release for you in the appendix at the end of this document. We encourage you to replace the quotes and text with words that are specific to your own community.

» Download a Sample Press Release (DOCX)